The number of people calling the British Heart Foundation (BHF) helpline has doubled on average since the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19), with a spike last week following new lockdown rules.
The Heart Helpline has received more than 11,000 calls and emails since the beginning of March, with contact reaching four times its normal level at the peak.
Last week saw another rise, with email and call volumes raising 52 per cent higher than the previous week, the BHF reported. The spike came after the Prime Minister’s announcement on a phased loosening of lockdown rules.
Most helpline callers are concerned about their risk of developing or dying from COVID-19 due their cardiac condition, and how safe it is for them to return to work as the lockdown is eased.
People with cardiac and circulatory diseases are at increased risk from COVID-19, which the charity says is prompting the concern.
Cardiovascular disease was the most common pre-existing health condition in people who died with COVID-19 during March in England and Wales, according to data from the Office of National Statistics.
To meet the unprecedented demand for the service, the BHF has extended its helpline opening hours and added to its specialist nursing team. It is also encouraging researchers to direct their research efforts into better understanding the effect of COVID-19 on the cardiac and circulatory system and to investigate potential treatments.
In addition to the helpline, the BHF has created a coronavirus hub on its website with information based on the latest evidence about the virus, which has helped more than one million visitors.